The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spelt Country Bread with Polenta and Roasted Garlic

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breaducation's picture

Spelt Country Bread with Polenta and Roasted Garlic

In my last post, I experimented with spelt flour in a country bread. The flavor was very appealing with slight nutty undertones and the bread came out great! However, I'm never satisfied with my last bread and always want to push into new areas. So I decided to increase the spelt in the formula from 10% to 20%.

I didn't stop there however, as at the last second I decided to add in polenta. I've tried using polenta in bread before and liked the result. There are a few steps to take when adding polenta or any grain for that matter into a bread.

Soft grains and seeds need to be soaked in water first so that they don't steal water from the dough and change the dough composition. With a hard grain like polenta you may need to go a step further and either use a boiling water soaker or just cook the grain beforehand. I elected to cook the polenta as I didn't have time to let it soak in hot water for 2+ hours. Once the polenta was cooled off I simply hand mixed it into my dough.

The loaf was dusted with cornmeal to hint at the polenta on the inside.

But that is not all! Like I said, I had put polenta in bread before and liked it but this time I really wanted to try something new. I decided to consult The Flavor Bible which is one of my absolute favorite books for cooking and baking. It is essentially a list of just about every ingredient you can think of and then under each ingredient is another list of all the other things that pair well with that ingredient. I simply looked up polenta and found a number of options that would go great with it. I decided on roasted garlic.


The still-warm crumb.

If you've never added roasted garlic to your bread I highly recommend it! Think garlic bread except the garlic is built into the bread instead of spread on top. It created a wonderful aroma throughout the apartment while baking. How to add roasted garlic to bread you ask? Simply roast the garlic with your preferred method and allow to cool. Then chop up and mix into your dough by hand. I went with four medium to large sized cloves in my 500g. loaf. I think I could have doubled that though and been fine(the garlic flavor I got was mild and subtle).

All in all this loaf was quite delicious and I would definitely bake it again especially if I was making bread for an Italian dinner.


breadsong's picture

Your bread looks outstandingly delicious, and the crumb, incredibly moist from the addition of the polenta.
:^) breadsong


breaducation's picture

Thanks so much breadsong!

The crumb did indeed come out amazingly. It was so so soft. I do think the polenta added to the moistness because I actually backed of the hydration slightly on this bread. I did about 1.5% less water. I also think I nailed the proofing though which helped with the softness.


dabrownman's picture

that  goes to the top of the bake list.  Just love the way it looks.  The crust and crumb are gorgeous.  I prefer Chi Chi polenta to corn for its nuttier and more unique flavor - might try that instead.

Nice baking once again,

breaducation's picture

Thanks dabrownman,

What is Chi Chi polenta? I've never heard of it. Would love to see your version of this bread and how you like the flavors.

dabrownman's picture

made with Garbanzo Bean flour.  Make surte to keep it in the freezer as it spoils quickly otherwise.

isand66's picture

What is chi chi polenta?  Does it do a dance for you?

dabrownman's picture

Chi Chi in Italian is Garbanzo Bean.  I use it for polenta instead of corn and prefer its flavor.  Italians make polenta out of all kinds of strange things (chestnut flour comes to mind) - like your breads!  If it danced for me, we would prehaps consider a pole addition in the kitchen :-)

Janetcook's picture


This loaf looks incredible!  I don't often use corn in my breads but this one calls out to be tried so a few questions for you:

How much polenta did you use?  (I am assuming you followed the recipe from your previous post for this loaf.) How much water did you add to it to soften it up?  Did you decrease the flour used due to the addition of the polenta?

The Flavor Bible is one of my favorites too.  So full of good ideas on how to mix and match.  

Thanks for the post.

Take Care,



breaducation's picture

I would love to share with you how much polenta I used but I must admit to being a bad baker on this loaf and not weighing in the polenta or really writing anything down for that matter. I will definitely be making this again however and I'll make sure to take quality notes and report back. In the meantime Ill give you my best approximations of what I used.

I probably used about 50% weight of the flour of the cooked polenta. In all honesty I just cooked up some polenta and mixed it into the dough until it seemed like a good distribution of polenta in the dough. I do have a picture of what the dough looked like that I will share here:

As for cooking the polenta. I started out with 2x the weight of the polenta for water but the polenta soaked that up really fast in the cooking. I'd say I ended up putting water in around 4-5x the weight of polenta. My process was to cook the polenta and everytime it started to get a bit dry I added more water. A bit like cooking risotto. I also slightly undercooked the polenta as I wanted to make sure you could feel it in the bread.

I did not decrease the flour in the dough. I treated the polenta more like an addition of seeds than flour. I did salt the polenta slightly as it cooked however. I think if you just salted the polenta to taste while it's cooking it will input nicely into most any dough you want.

Janetcook's picture

That's what I call cooking by intuition :-)

Sounds like a loaf I make that uses hummus so I will look up that loaf and see what  % of hummus I use.  I guess, according to dabrownman, hummus is what he calls chi chi which is garbanzo flour so I should be all set.  

Thanks for describing your process.  Now to write it all up and put it onto my 'to bake' list.

Take Care,


isand66's picture

Beautiful looking bake.  I loe the way your crumb came out nice and moist.

I love spelt and corn and garlic so I'm sure this one must taste as good as it looks.

I have an interesting one in the oven now...hope it comes out as good as yours!

Ian's picture

Nice looking, and intriguing tasting, loaf. 

Share the formula and process?




PeterS's picture

that is one good looking loaf of bread, I can almost smell the garlic. Well done!

breaducation's picture

Glad you liked the loaf, the formula and process is as follows.

IngredientsBaker's %Amount(g.)
Liquid Levain3074
Ap Flour80223
Spelt Flour2049


1. Cook the polenta before hand by combining polenta with 4x it's weight in water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and add water if the mixture starts to become dry. Cook until almost done but not quite. Allow to cool. At the same time roast the garlic. I just put some unpeeled garlic cloves tossed in olive oil on a baking sheet in my oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then peel the cloves and chop up into desired size.

2. To make the dough, combine all ingredients in a bowl with your hands until well incorporated. Desired dough temperature: 80 degrees. I like my sourdoughs to ferment a little warm.

3. Bulk ferment for 3-4.5 hours. Strech and fold every 30 minutes. You want to get this dough really strong. I don't think it can be too strong.

4. At the 3rd stretch and fold mix in the garlic and polenta by hand.

5. The dough is finished with bulk when it is nice and airy but still feels strong.  A good sign that you nailed the bulk is when you put the final shaped dough in the basket it should be "sitting up" and not flattening out.

6. Preshape into a boule and allow to rest 30 minutes.

7. Final shape as desired and put in basket.

8. Immediately move to the fridge and allow to retard overnight(8-12 hours).

9. The next morning, preheat the oven to 500. I also put my cast iron dutch oven in at this point.

10. Once oven is hot, remove the dough from the fridge, score and immediately bake. You can turn your oven down to 450 at this point if it retains heat well. Mine does not so I leave it at 500 degrees. Steam for the first 15 minutes.

11. Bake for another 30 minutes or until the loaf is nicely colored.'s picture

Bravo.  I admire your intuitive approach:  You could be the Breaducator who writes the book (or blogs the site...) "Bread Baking By Feel" that I've thought somebody should do, in thinking about recent threads on bread books in print or imagined by TFLoafers.  Leave out weights and measures and teach novices totally by feel.  "Throw an amount of flour in a bowl equivalent to <?>, the volume or your fist, foot, head?  Then add water until ...."  (you fill in the blanks for how your students should experience it).  Man, you're the one to do it.  Start with feel on Day One and graduate to the boring bakers' math stuff later.

Surprised to learn that the polenta went in after the third S&F.  Didn't that nuke a lot of the strength of dough built up before it?  I sure assumed it went into the initial mix.  Not.  Can't argue with success.

Thanks again!



breaducation's picture

That would certainly be interesting Tom! While I do think baking by feel is probably the most important skill a baker can develop, there are certain things I just don't do by feel, mainly how much flour, salt and yeast to use. I always weigh that out. There are ratios for those ingredients that work perfectly and there is no sense in trying to guess at them.

I do think I'll write a lesson on my site about baking by feel though. Something like, "Here is a forumla, I'm not going to give you any times, now try and decide when to progress to every next step based on how the dough feels."

I do think one should have baked at least 5 loaves or so before they attempt something like this if they want the full benefit. I mean, I think about how I was when I first started baking and I definitely did not have a clue about when to move to the next step.

As for the bread, I added the polenta at the third stretch and fold precisely because I wanted that gluten development first. Almost any inclusion into bread should be added after you have developed some gluten. This is because if you add seeds or nuts or whatever right from the beginning you will be shredding your gluten before it can even get started. The dough will then require much more mixing(which is a bad thing generally) in order to get the right amount of gluten development. Adding inclusions later gives your dough a head start.


SallyBR's picture

I love how daring you were, I am a lot less courageous when it comes to bread baking, but you inspire me to open my own horizons.

Roasted garlic is indeed magical in bread, I should use it again, it's been years!



madisonbaker26's picture

What a great looking loaf!  I'm gonna give this a shot tomorrow and probably add some basil or some herb (my herb garden is growing a little wild) and sarvecchio cheese.  

breaducation's picture

I was contemplating adding rosemary to this loaf but didn't have any on hand. I think herbs of some kind would be a great addition. Good luck!